The Name of This Book Is Secret

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Name of This Book Is Secret Book Poster Image
Mild mystery tries too hard to be Lemony Snicket.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 57 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Children are not honest with their parents and guardians.

Violence

A reference to a story about a monk who cut off his own eyelids. Some people may have been killed in a fire.

Sex
Language

One use of "dammit."

Consumerism

One disparaging reference to McDonald's.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is little to be concerned about here: one mild expletive, some indirectly referenced violence, and children sneaking out on adventures.

User Reviews

Parent of a 8 year old Written byLipstick6 May 10, 2011

I wouldn't recommend this for any age group.

Awful book. Besides being unoriginal and boring, starting on page 50, there is a blatant message encouraging children to lie to their parents, saying that its o... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written byJojano April 1, 2011

A great "suspenseful" book that isn't too scary

My son (10 yrs) just finished reading this whole series. I think he liked it better than Lemony Snicket which is so dark. I read the first few books of The Se... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHP10geance March 16, 2011
I LOVE THIS BOOK ! It has good vocabulary and the writer made this book really interesting to read! I can't stop reading after i started ! It even has code... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAilbhe02 March 29, 2016

A truly amazing book!

I read this book when I was 11, and it has remained one of my favourite books (and series) ever since. :) The story is told in a unique and funny way, with t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Cass carries around a backpack with survival gear, supposedly because her father was killed by lightning, except he wasn't, so it's not really an excuse. Max-Ernest is an incessant chatterbox, which lands him in therapy and social pariah-hood. They team up to look into a mysterious coded message left in the belongings of an elderly magician who apparently died in a fire.

What they find is a group of mysterious immortals who kidnap children with synesthesia, for reasons that never become completely clear, but are apparently connected to their method of prolonging life. When a boy from their school is kidnapped, they decide to try to rescue him.

Is it any good?

The fun part is the mystery: Children with a taste for this kind of thing will enjoy the clues and codes, and will wish for more of them. Some will be immediately obvious to many kids, while others are more clever, but this part of the story is a fairly humorous romp. The dreary part is the author's voice: Apparently trying to take a leaf from Lemony Snicket's books, he gives incessant warnings about how dangerous it is to read the book; this, combined with the utter lack of anything that justifies the build-up, comes across as lame at best and annoying at worst.

The sum of these parts, along with some plot holes and lapses in logic, make for a book that is modestly entertaining at times and irritating at others. But given the dearth of books in this particular genre of lighthearted mysteries involving codes and a touch of the supernatural, kids who loved Lemony Snicket's or Blue Balliett's books will want to read this too.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various types of secret codes used in the book, including keyword codes and anagrams -- and maybe play around with some secret codes for a little family fun. Which types of secret code appeal to you most? Can you make up a secret code?

Book details

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